Is adoption hard and scary? Yes, it is! However, it is hard and scary for the child too! My husband and I decided to host a child before an international adoption. It took some of the fear out of the process. Now granted you cannot learn everything about a child in a few short weeks, but it truly helped take some of the fear out of the unknown. When we decided to host a child from Ukraine, we did not think about adopting. We just wanted to provide a fun, loving environment for a child to experience American culture. What we got was a whole lot more.
We ended up hosting a fifteen-year-old girl from Ukraine. Crazy! Right? Not so! It was the best thing we ever did. During hosting most days were fun and special, some days normal and other days trying. Something just happened during that unique hosting experience. We all began to click. In the end we just felt like we could be her forever family. The best part was she felt this way as well.
The next step was the international adoption process from Ukraine. For us it was filled with waiting, frustration, prayers and more waiting. My advice is to get a good adoption agency, talk to other families who have adopted children, take classes, and educate yourself as much as possible.
Finally, we got an invitation to go to Ukraine. Another process filled with the unknown, faith, and a teenage girl with eyes that could light up a room. We made it to “Adoption Day” and then more weeks of waiting. We set foot in America as a family two weeks before her sixteenth birthday and four weeks before she began high school.
Now real life together as a family begins. Learning English, doing homework, making new friends, meeting new family, trying new things (Yes, I have a closet full of stuff that she tried out but just was not her thing. Anyone want to make me an offer on a very expensive skateboard?). Our daughter was the complete package. By that I mean she came with all the good and bad experiences of her past, and was a typical teenager. Friends and family would ask me how it is going, my response was, “We have good days and ones to grow on.”
We were fortunate that our daughter did not have any physical or mental disabilities. However, we all have some baggage, including us. Our daughter left behind in Ukraine a very loving grandmother, three older siblings who had aged out of adoption, and an orphanage that she grew up in since the age of four. Thank goodness for technology, she has been able to keep in touch with them. As you can imagine this does not replace being with them. This was very difficult for our daughter, but she is very brave. Her grandmother always told her to “stay strong” and she did just that. Honestly, this was a very scary thing for us, how were we going to become a family if she already had one? What she needed were parents. That’s where we came in. We are here for her when she needs someone to listen to her, a shoulder to cry on, to teach her new things (my husband taught her how to drive), to help her grow up into a responsible adult, and love her unconditionally. Have we succeeded or have we failed? Only time will tell. What we know for sure is we have tried our best and we will continue to do so.
We have been a family for only five short years. Our daughter is a high school graduate, is currently a college student and holds a part time job during the summer months. She is smart, funny, strong, stubborn, beautiful, determined to succeed, and loves to argue (especially with me). So through all the tears and laughter we have become a family. Time is flying by and we cannot remember life without her. She recently bought my husband, her dad, a plaque that says, “Life doesn’t come with an instruction book. That’s why we have fathers.” We feel truly blessed to have her in our lives.
I am often told that our daughter is lucky to have us in her life. No! We are the lucky ones. She has taught me so much and I feel honored to be her Mom. She has already given us a lifetime of joy in just five short years.
When I asked our daughter if it was okay to share our story she said, “If it helps one child it would be worth it.”